I want our church to be a safe place.
I want it to be a place where the un-churched and those who are groping after the truth or seeking help in their distress, may come and not feel any trace of finger-pointing Pharisaism. A place where the members walk always with a profound sense of God’s grace and, knowing that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, are careful to refrain from condemnatory attitudes and conduct.
For the great good news of the Gospel is that we don’t have to clean up our lives in order to come to Jesus. We come to Jesus and He then makes us right with God, both as we come to faith in Him and then by an ongoing process of becoming like Him in our behaviour and character. Thus the church must open its arms wide to sinners of all descriptions: the Great Physician comes for the sick and not for the healthy, and indeed there is ‘none righteous no not one’.
The Gospel is inclusive in its essence.
Yet just as we may not exclude anyone on the grounds of race, gender, nationality, age or any other criterion, for all are in need of God’s salvation, so too we may not exclude anyone from the pursuit of holiness, ‘without which no-one will see the Lord’. We may not presume to lower the bar for anyone, for we all alike must ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’. It is God who sets the bar and it is nothing less than complete Christ-likeness.
I want our church to be one that demonstrates the Christ-like ability to say not only, “I do not condemn you,” but also, “Go and sin no more.”
A church where one is encouraged to do what is displeasing to God or where sin is winked at, is not a safe place.
A church where one is misled as to the truth of God is not a safe place.